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BY ROBERT HOPE MONCRIE FF, AUTHOR OF 'OUDENDALE,' 'STORIES FOR BOYS,' 'ARTHUR FORTEscue,'
THE LYCEE BOYS,' ETC.
CHAPTER 1.- BRIARBRAE.
N a pleasant little study which opened
out by a French window into a garden blooming even then with flowers,-it was the beginning of September,—a gentleman sat hard at work over a great pile of papers.
And as he wrote, a lady with a per
plexed look on her face, and an open Latin grammar in her hand, entered noiselessly, and stood by his side, waiting till he
should be at leisure. “Ah, Cary!' he said, looking up with a smile. If
you can spare a moment,' said his wife, 'I have come to get you to help me with those terrible Latin words. I don't know how they should be pronounced.'
Captain Hazelwood took the book from her hands, and read over the terrible words,' while she pronounced each of them after him several times.
you, dear. But do you know I am afraid I can't go on teaching the boys much longer. They are getting much too deep for me. Even Harry laughs at my blunders.'
'Poor mamma!' said Captain Hazelwood, 'I wish I could help you. But you know I have already so much to do. I think I must make an effort, and take the Latin at least off
hands.' • No, no, Charles; your work is a great deal too hard for your
health as it is. But I do wish there was a good school nearer this than Inverarnan for the boys to go to.'
Captain Hazelwood looked thoughtful. Let us come into the garden and talk about it.'
The Hazelwoods, it must be known, lived in the Highlands, on the shores of Loch Arnan, one of those long deep bays which run up into the land from the mouth of the Clyde. It was a beautiful, but rather thinly populated spot, the nearest town being Inverarnan, ten miles off, and even that what some people would have called only a large village. “The boys' had gone there to school for some time, riding across the mountain every morning, and home again at night. But the road was bad, dangerous mists were very frequent in the evening, the ponies were always falling lame, or coming to some other misfortune; so Mrs Hazelwood did not like this plan, and at the end of six months, the boys were taken away, and ever since their mamma had been attempting to teach them herself, with no great success, as she herself had to confess. They would have had a tutor, but, alas ! Briarbrae was such a small house, that there was no room for any one but themselves and their servants.
It was a pretty two-storied cottage, standing at the head of a sheltered bay, into which flowed a brown, rapid river, full of trout and salmon. Behind, and on each side, rose up the great purple mountains, and in front stretched the blue sea, sparkling with the early morning sun, for it was not yet breakfast-time. The Hazelwoods were early risers, and rightly too; for there is
no happier time in life than a summer morning in the Highlands.
When Captain Hazelwood had fetched his and his wife's straw hat, they strolled out into the garden, which stretched down to the beach, and where, of course, was Miss Agnes, otherwise Aggy, six years old, and the gene ral pet of the household. And what must Miss Aggy do but follow them, clinging on to her mamma's dress, and talking all sorts of merry nonsense. But when they had sat down on the little arbour looking out to the sea, Captain Hazelwood said
See, Aggy, there are Horace and Harry coming back in the boat. Run down to the shore and wait for them.'
Off went Aggy at a trot, accustomed to do whatever her papa told her; and then he said
; “I have been thinking about the boys too, my dear; I am afraid we must send them to school in Edinburgh.'
Edinburgh ! already?' 'Yes, they are growing beyond your management, and are just at the age, too, when it is good for them to mix with other boys. The life we lead here is a very happy and peaceful one; but boys must be educated by something more than happiness and peacefulness. They must learn as boys to bear the troubles of men. So for some time I have been thinking, much against my own will, that they ought to be sent this autumn to the Edinburgh Academy, where I was educated myself.'
'I suppose you are right,' said Mrs Hazelwood reluctantly. But, oh, Charles ! I have such a horror of large schools. Don't boys learn all sorts of wicked habits in them?'
Of course my first object is to make my boys good. But boys can be just as bad at home as at school; just as good at school as at home. It is right that they should learn in a large school what temptation is; and I earnestly hope that, by the grace of God and our teaching, they may never forget how to resist it. And remember, my dear, that there are many virtues, such as courage, self-denial,
generosity, industry, can be learned far better in a great school than in this wild place, where our boys hardly ever have a companion except Jamie, the keeper's son, --a very good boy in his way, perhaps, but not the best companion for them.'
You are right; though it will be hard to part with them. Poor fellows, I don't know how they will like it.'
'I will speak to them about it as soon as
But here a shout from Miss Aggy proclaimed that the boat had arrived; and, looking up, they saw the boys leaping on the shore, -handsome, sturdy fellows both, dressed in tartan kilts and well-worn jackets, that told a tale of much fishing, climbing, and scrambling. The younger brother stayed behind to drag up the boat on shore and secure it by the anchor ; but the elder ran straight up to his papa and mamma, evidently full of some important news. But before he had said a word, his papa had stopped him.
. *Away back and help Harry to pull up the boat before I listen to a word. Careless Horace !' he exclaimed, as the boy ran back.
“Yes, I wish he were more thoughtful if he is to go away from home,' said Mrs Hazelwood.
The boat being now fastened, the whole party rushed up to the arbour. Now you could see that the two boys were not like one another. Horace, who was twelve years old, was like his father, tall, with dark eyes, clearly cut features, and black, curly hair. Harry, who might be a year and a half younger, was fair and short, and had a frank, good-humoured little face, which everybody liked. If his mamma had only had a snub nose and very
red cheeks, you would have said he was like her !
“Now, what is this important communication which I see you are all anxious to make ?' said their papa.
Oh, papa, the squirrel !' burst forth all three.
What about the squirrel? Did you meet him while you were rowing?'
No; but before,' said Horace. We went to look at
mamma's plum-tree as soon as we got up, and found half the plums destroyed.'
• What a pity! My poor plums ! I had intended them to be destroyed by some other little squirrels that I know of,' said mamma, pinching Aggy's cheek.
* And, oh, papa, we saw the squirrel !' cried Harry. 'He ran up a fir-tree and we lost sight of him.'
Why didn't you run after him ? Well, if you can't catch this clever little thief, I suppose I must. Mamma,
I dear, if you will go in and get the breakfast ready, Horace will fetch me my gun, and we will go and execute justice on this disturber of the
of my garden.' Horace was off in an instant for the gun; and
mamma, who didn't like guns, went into the house, after a vain attempt to take Aggy with her, which that young lady stoutly resisted, saying
• Me stay with papa. Me shoot the squirrel myself!'
But no sooner had Captain Hazelwood begun to load the gun than Aggy's courage disappeared, and she fled into the house after her mamma, while the boys followed their father to the shrubbery where the squirrel was said to have his abode.
But Master Squirrel did not choose to be at home that morning; for though he was always turning up when not wanted, he was very shy of showing himself whenever he was particularly wanted, as at present,-being a sensible squirrel, and having, perhaps, a shrewd idea that gentlemen don't come into a shrubbery with a gun before breakfast for nothing ; so, after twenty minutes of searching and shouting and throwing stones, they were obliged to give up that method of exterminating him ; and having drawn the shot from the barrels, and given the gun to Horace to fire off, Captain Hazelwood sent into the house for the trap, and when it was brought, led the way to the wall against which the plundered plum-tree grew. Having set the trap, he lifted a good-sized stone and put it on the wall, and on the top of the stone again he placed